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The tradition of fine bourbon making has been a part of this locations heritage for more than two centuries. In fact, there has been a working distillery on the grounds since 1787 and in 1789 the distillery was the first to ship the whiskey down the river.
The first modern distillery was built on this site in 1857 and was the first to incorporate the use of steam power–a major advance in producing high quality bourbon.
The distillery was later purchased by E.H. Taylor, Jr., one of Kentucky's original Bourbon aristocrats. Astute and innovative, Taylor brought advancements to the facility as well as to the entire whiskey industry. By 1886, the distillery had introduced the nation's first climate-controlled warehousing for aging whiskey and had earned a worldwide reputation for producing America's finest bourbons.
During the prohibition era, the distillery's existence was spared by the allowance of a permit–one of only four issued in the country–to continue distillation for medicinal purposes.
After prohibition was repealed, Albert Blanton took over the operation of the distillery and added many quality control enhancements. An innovator in his own right, Blanton enjoyed producing single-barrel bourbon for himself and his friends. This tradition was honoured in 1984 when the distillery became the first to commercially market a single-barrel bourbon
Today the Buffalo Trace Distillery site encompasses 119 acres and 114 buildings. The George T. Stagg distillery was renamed Buffalo Trace in June 1999 and introduced its flagship bourbon, Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, in August 1999.
In addition to Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, the distillery has a history of other finely crafted, award-winning spirits, including Blanton's, W.L Weller, Old Charter and Eagle Rare.
The distillery has won more international awards since 1990 than any other North American distillery, earning more than 140 distinctions in national and international competitions including the 2005 "Distiller of the Year" award presented by Whisky Magazine.
The research for the Buffalo Trace has revealed several owners and names.
"what is the real name of this company and why isn’t it called that?" With bourbon distilleries, that is never an easy question to answer. The history of whiskey making in Kentucky is complicated and all surviving distilleries have changed hands and labels numerous times.
Names associated with this site are Rock Hill Farm (Benjamin Blanton 1865)
Renamed Old Fire Copper Distilling Company (ODC Distillery) (1869)
Shortly after Col. Edmund Taylor purchased the distillery
George T. Stagg (owner of the E.H.Taylor, Jr. Co.) Then renamed Old Stagg Distillery in 1886
Purchased by the Schenley Corporation in 1929 became Shenley Distillery
During World War 2 Sheneley purchased George Dickel’s Cascade Hollow and set up a "distillery within a distillery”. The George Dickel distillery had been driven from Tennessee in 1910 when that state declared itself dry a full decade before the rest of the country The Dickel operation had originally moved to Louisville before relocating to the Shenley distillery.
The distillery or part of the complex name changed several more times; Ancient Age Distilling Company, to Leestown Distilling Company, Inc., Then to it’s present owners Sazerac, Inc. who renamed the distillery as Buffalo Trace in June 1999.
Buffalo Trace Distillery
1001 Wilkinson Boulevard
Visitor Centre and Tours.
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Buffalo Trace Distillery Information
Owner Sazerac Co
Distillation Column Stills
Buffalo Trace Distillery History
The McAfee brothers completed the first survey of the area north of the Kentucky River in 1773. Brothers Hancock and Willis Lee established a settlement two years later, after initial struggles and abandonment the area had developed into a thriving community by 1787.
Those who settled there were quick to take advantage of the abundant limestone spring water and fertile bottom loam-found to be perfect for growing exceptional grain. Distillation soon followed and what would become the area's distinguished bourbon heritage took root.